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This is the week – Hunter will be home for the summer starting Friday morning and I’m feeling the adrenaline starting to pump through me! I’ve figured out a good amount of activities, outings, and general play suggestions – so I should be okay (at least for the first few weeks). I have two things left to accomplish before Thursday night: make some sort of visual schedule and finish the yoga cards.

We also had an opportunity this week to do a sort of “dry-run” experience to test whether Hunter can sit still and do a series of different activities. Normally, I’d save everything that I have for when we need it most, but circumstances turned on Friday when Hunter had an accident where he injured his head, acquired a massive gash in his forehead and needed to rest because of a concussion. How does one keep a spirited personality sitting, or in bed? The next day, in spite of a what he described as a “soft headache” he was up and running around (not to mention climbing!) almost immediately. I put on a tv program on for him, but he was growing bored of it within 15 minutes. The children’s show was Peep and Quack and its theme was: The Phases of the Moon. Peep, Chirp and Quack were exploring just how many different moons might be in the night sky as evening-to-evening they were each seeing a different shape.

In the back of my mind, I thought we might be able to try one of the easier painting techniques and talk about this topic. In the end, I learned things about the moon I never knew before.

We started with a watercolour technique that I chose last week, and have seen as the “base,” or under layer, of many projects. All you need is one piece of watercolour paper and a plastic bag or plastic wrap.

watercolours and saran wrap

The technique requires that the watercolour paper is wet when you begin. This was pure magic for Hunter and I. As he put that first blotch of paint down on the wet paper is spread out like a microscopic looking bacteria burst. It spread into the water so much further than either of us thought it would. For the first 10 or so blotches of paint we just slowly watched this strange spreading organism taking shape on the paper. The Phases of the Moon watercolour

After we got over it, we painted the rest of the entire sheet, laid down a piece of plastic bag and applied weight to as many places on the paper as possible so as to get that mottled aspect.

You must then resist touching either the stones, the paper or the bag for a number of hours. The paint needs to fully dry before you peel the bag away. The way to best test this is to just push on a wrinkled area of the bag and see if it is still watery beneath.

Once the paint was dry we peeled off the bag and realized that because we had soaked the watercolour paper – the back of the page that was laying against the craft mat was still quite wet, even though the painted side was completely dry. Phases of the Moon Watercolour - stage 1

We hung the painting to dry outside so that we could sit around admiring its effect.

Day 1 this is all we accomplished with the project. I wanted to keep the art projects as a day activity and painting and drying took us from late morning to late afternoon. We left the next layer to begin early Sunday morning.

I was concerned that Hunter might lose interest in a 2 day span of a project. Not at all – I woke Sunday morning to a small head looming above me asking when we could do more with the painting?

Bonus points for this activity – you can perform it while completely groggy at 7am on a Sunday before your first mouthfuls of coffee.

Masking off the moon phases

Masking off the moon phases


Drying

Drying

I used painters tape and a lid from a jar to make circles and tape them into waxing, full, and waning moon shapes and cut them out with an exacto knife. Hunter placed the phases in rows.

At this point we didn’t really know very much about why the moon has so many different aspects or shapes through the month – so we watched a little children’s video on YouTube about the phases of the moon and we both learned that the phases are called: waxing crescent, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, waning crescent, and new moon.

I was pretty intrigued, what is this gibbous designation; I’ve never even heard of it before? Apparently it is an Old English/Latin cognate that means “hunch” or “hump”-backed.

Huh…learning something new over here.

Once the moon shapes were masked off, we did the final layer of watercolour in midnight blue (a mixture of Ultramarine blue and black) and hung it to dry again.

In about one hour everything was dry and ready for star-speckled “spattering”.

Spattering stars

Spattering stars

We got Hunter suited up in a smock and gave him a toothbrush, a stick and some white gouache or poster paint and send him down the driveway with his painting.

The technique is simply to dip the toothbrush bristles in the paint and then rub the toothbrush (turned away from you – yes, we got paint in our eyes on the first go) with the stick over the painting.

The effect is white speckles and streaks that approximate stars and comet tails.

This was probably Hunter’s most loved activity in the whole craft. He went wild with the toothbrush.

We hung the painting again to dry, which was very fast.

Ready for Stage 5

Ready for Stage 5

The final stages were a lot of fun, and Hunter was thrilled that he got to use a knife.

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Peeling the masked off moons

Peeling the masked off moons

Basically you just pull the tape off carefully to reveal your moon phases. The final result was really wonderful and we all loved it!

Finished product

Notes:

Using watercolours as both the under layer and the top layer caused some problems as the black/blue watercolour ran under some of the edges of the tape and we were not able to remove some of the top layer to “lighten” up the night sky in places like a nebula kind of effect. The bottom and top paint basically just combined into another colour. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I can see how doing the bottom layer in acrylics with a plastic bag would set the entire base and then using a watercolour surface colour would allow more freedom to sponge off some of the top layer of colour.

The stars looked fantastic. It was so exciting peeling off each moon to reveal what colour might be in it that we took it pretty slow.

The entire craft takes 2 mornings and 2 afternoons.

You will need:

  • watercolour paper
  • watercolours
  • a plastic bag or plastic wrap
  • a paint tray
  • paint brushes
  • painters tape
  • lid of a jar or other circular object you can trace
  • white poster paint
  • an old toothbrush
  • a stick or the end of a paintbrush
  • an exacto knife and craft mat (or cutting board)
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